18 April 2023

Leyton Orient promoted despite losing to Gillingham in incident-packed clash

18 April 2023

Leyton Orient secured promotion from League Two despite losing 2-0 in a feisty and interrupted encounter against Gillingham.

Goals from Alex MacDonald and Cheye Alexander earned victory for the hosts but leaders Orient, who had Omar Beckles sent off after just 14 minutes, were able to celebrate a return to League One after an eight-year absence.

However, they were made to wait as a floodlight failure at Priestfield during the second half saw the match come to a halt.

By the time the game was able to resume after a 23-minute delay, the Orient players had already raced back onto the pitch to start their promotion celebrations due to events elsewhere, with the two teams then seeing out the remainder of the match.

The O’s started well and only a goal-line clearance from defender Alexander prevented captain Darren Pratley from putting the visitors in front inside 10 minutes.

Backed by a vociferous following of over 1,600 fans, Orient’s evening took a turn for the worse when Beckles was controversially sent off by referee Carl Brook for his 14th-minute challenge on George Lapslie.

And from the resulting free-kick, Gills midfielder MacDonald curled his shot past goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux at his near post to put the hosts in front.

Vigouroux made amends for that misjudgement inside the first minute of the second half when he brilliantly kept out Tom Nichols’ goal-bound header.

However, the hosts made sure of an eighth win from their last 10 home games alongside securing their League Two status when Alexander fired home from the penalty spot after Idris El Mizouni handled a MacDonald free-kick.

Orient manager Richie Wellens was booked by referee Brook, yet not even that nor a localised power cut and subsequent delay could stop the east London club from securing a return to the third tier for the first time since 2015.

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